The banking industry showed signs of accelerated growth for the first time since the spring in the latest American Banker Index of Banking Activity.

The November index was 54.9, up slightly from 54.6 in October. It was the first monthly increase in the index - representative of accelerated expansion - since May. Still, the reading was down compared with the 55.8 mark posted a year earlier.

Commercial lending perked up a month after the partial government shutdown ended. Applications for commercial loans rose at a faster pace in November, with a 56 reading, while approvals also gained momentum, at 57. The readings in October were 53.4 and 52.8, respectively.

Consumer lending held steady after two consecutive months of declines. The readings for applications and approvals both stood at 50, indicating no change from a month earlier.

Still, bankers reported that loan portfolios grew at a slower rate in November, and they were challenged with commercial loan pricing, with that reading staying below 50 for a second straight month. Consumer loan pricing remained favorable for bankers for the sixth straight month.

"This interest rate environment is terrible and probably will be for a long time," Bill Crawford, chief executive of Rockville Financial in Rockville, Conn., said in a recent interview. "It is very tough to fight against that."